Online Publishing Tips from David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief, Men’s Health

Valuable talking points from the Mequoda Summit Boston 2010’s first keynote presentation

Any active online publisher knows that the digital environment’s rules have changed. They have seen competition grow, digital content rapidly expand and the strategies for reaching targeted audiences evolve with technology.

Last week at the Mequoda Summit Boston 2010, we had a variety of managerial staff, online publishers, editors and marketers gather to discuss the changes that are taking place and how to successfully address them.

As a first keynote speaker of the week, David Zinczenko, the Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health magazine captivated the audience with results he’s seen from his own actions as an online publisher in this new era of digital publishing.

Three tips from David Zinczenko

I could write a grocery list of statistics I learned about Zinczenko’s successes as a publisher and although it would be interesting, it wouldn’t necessarily help any of the online publishers, content marketers or Internet marketers reading this post do their job better. Instead, some candid information about using online resources and the editorial process itself will likely be more beneficial.

Tip #1 – For online editors and those looking to hire online editors: According to Zinczenko, “commercially-minded editors who are format agnostic” are necessary to be successful in the world of online publishing. Yes, journalistic integrity is still extremely important. That should never change. However, online editors need to look at the bigger picture. There is a massive world of online content that is updated daily. In order for great articles to be found and read, content needs to be optimized for search engines, social networks should be utilized to build relationships and it’s okay to sell products as long as they are valuable to the audience and the attempts of doing so aren’t overbearing.

Tip #2 – For online editors, content marketers and content producers: Know the “hot-button” issues that resonate with your audience. Online content isn’t consumed in the same manner as print publications. Some aspects that are popular in print may not be in digital formats, and vice versa. Discover what interests your audience the most and bring them that content in the most effective manner. Savvy online publishers like Zinczenko use buzz words like “Secrets” and “Lists” to captivate the audience.

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Tip #3 – For anyone utilizing social media: Make the process fun for the audience. Zinczenko is no stranger to social media. In fact, he currently has over 57,000 followers on Twitter. I’m sure he has all of those followers because his tweets are interesting and fun. His Twitter strategy is to make the info useful, fun and not full of links. Even promotional tweets can be fun. For instance, Zinczenko discussed doing a fun countdown with Twitter followers that offered free advances of a new book if followers engaged in the countdown by re-tweeting the message.

More information learned from Zinczenko’s presentation

-Manage your content in a smart manner. When you reach a critical mass with your content, look to take your content and put it in a different format. An excess of blog content can be turned into a book or an audio podcast.

Men’s Health offers minute-long videos. They are popular because of their accessible length.

-The Internet affords a lot of opportunity if you understand your audience and it’s especially easy for editors to get feedback.

-There is a lot of power in newsletters; Zinczenko sees almost a 40% average click-through rate on his newsletters.

-For those creating apps, adding pop-ups into the apps that promote for a related newsletter or product have proven to be successful.

Publishers should consider it a best practice to site accordingly. This isn’t hard to do with the ability to link to direct articles and websites.

It’s now our time to thrive and prosper in this modern digital age and just because some of the rules and strategies have changed, it doesn’t mean we have to lose the passion behind creating and sharing great content.

The opportunities are enormous online. Some online publishers are experiencing more than half of their sales coming from digital sources. How about you?

David Zinczenko’s insight from the Mequoda Summit Boston 2010 was informative and inspiring. What are your thoughts on these tips, and the current state of the online publishing environment? Please share your thoughts with us.

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